What Drives Your Choice Of Wi-Fi Versus 3G?

What Drives Your Choice Of Wi-Fi Versus 3G?
ConnectToANetworkAt Lifehacker HQ, we’re all about wireless broadband as a solution for travellers. But sometimes a Wi-Fi network ends up looking like a better choice, even if you have to pay for it.

When you search for an Internet connection at a hotel, train station or other similar location, there’s normally a three-step process involved:

  1. Can I get onto a decent Wi-Fi network for free? (Our guide to finding free Wi-Fi can be very useful here.)
  2. Can I get a decent signal with my 3G service?
  3. Can I get a reasonable Wi-Fi deal without paying a fortune?

There can be other complicating factors (such as corporate policy or a desire for better security), but for most travellers, those are the three key questions.

I found myself at stage 3 recently: no free Wi-Fi available, sub-GPRS speeds on my dongle, and a non-free but not totally extortionate paid Wi-Fi network. With a bunch of work to get done, paying up was the only rational choice. Nonetheless, it felt a bit odd to be paying for a connection when 3G broadband was almost an option. But in the end, the need for speed beat the desire to save money.

Now I’m wondering: what would make you choose Wi-Fi over 3G broadband, or vice-versa? Share your approach in the comments.


  • There’s have to be no free Wi-Fi, and no connection possible using my 3G connection for me to even THINK about paying. I can’t see how it’d be different for anyone else who actually has a 3G service available… as that’s exactly what it’s for.

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